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Upskilling During the Great Recession - 10/29/15

During the Great Recession, companies ratcheted up the requirements necessary to secure a job.  As indicated by the Wall Street Journal, beginning in two thousand and seven, firms posting job listings in a variety of industries began requesting bachelor’s degrees or multiple years of experience where previously neither was required. 

Economist Alicia Sasser Modestino from Northeastern University regards this as a cyclical phenomenon and has termed it opportunistic upskilling.  Modestino and her co-authors studied approximately thirteen million job listings from online job aggregator Burning Glass Technologies.  The authors determined that increases in a state’s unemployment rate caused local employers to raise the requirements for middle skill jobs, including administrative assistant and sales positions. 

Specifically, they found that for each percentage point increase in the state unemployment rate between two thousand and seven and twenty ten, the share of advertised positions requiring a bachelor’s degree rose by nearly half a percentage point.  The share of jobs requiring at least two years of experience rose by zero point eight percentage points.  Not surprisingly, with the national unemployment rate at five point one percent, the trend of opportunistic upskilling is reversing.

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants. Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes. Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.